Refraction Examples – Examples of Refraction of Light in Real Life

Searching for Refraction Examples? In this post, you will find out lots of real-life refraction/light refraction examples. So endeavor to read to the end for the full detail.

Refraction Examples

How does it work? Light moves at certain speeds. And, when the speed changes, it causes the light to bend. This bend is called refraction and can be seen in everyday life.

However, you can explore refraction examples from your home to the world around you. To do that check out the section below.

Refraction Examples – Examples of Refraction of Light in Real Life

One of the amazing refraction examples is that of glasses of water with a straw.

Glasses of water with straws

Light hits everything. Some substances let it move at a constant speed, while others slow it down. And when light slows, it bends; so, objects might appear bent, closer, or larger than they really are.

Another amazing example of this is when a pencil is put in a half-filled glass of water. You will notice how the pencil above the water looks normal, but beneath the water, it looks bent and slightly larger. Refraction is the reason for that result.

Glasses or Contacts

If you put on glasses or contact lenses, this is light refraction at play. The lenses of glasses or contacts are made of plastic that purposely bends light in specific ways. It is used to improve vision. For instance, bifocals use a convex lens to bend light to make things look bigger.


Glass is a great daily example of light refraction. When you look through a glass jar, it will make an object look smaller and slightly lifted. If a glass is placed over a document or piece of paper, then the words will look closer to the surface because of the different angles the light is bending. However, depending on the glass you look through, you can see all different types of effects.

Twinkling Stars

The air in the atmosphere is not all the same. Some areas are thicker, while some areas are thinner. So, when you go out at night and look at the stars, they appear to twinkle. This twinkling happens as light refracts as it passes through the different layers of the atmosphere

Human Eyes

Every human eye has a lens. The lens, or cornea, works to refract light onto the retina. The picture is then sent through your optic nerve to the brain. So, without refraction, you wouldn’t be able to see.

Pickle Jar

Have you ever grabbed a jar of pickles with some good-looking large pickles only to pull them out and feel quite disappointed? But why? They appear so much bigger in the juice in the jar. And since refraction can make things look larger, the pickles are actually smaller than they might appear. This is due not only to the glass but the liquid inside.

Ice Crystals And Sun dog Halo

Refraction on ice crystals can have a fun prism effect. Moreover, when refraction happens in a cloud with hexagonal ice crystals, it creates a unique effect known as a sun dog. However, the halo is what creates the illusion of multiple suns.

Microscope or Telescope

The lens of a telescope or microscope uses the refraction of light to make things appear closer than they really are. However, the lenses of the telescope and microscope are curved in a way that they magnify little objects or those far away so the human eye can see them.


The camera captures through refraction. How? When you tap the shutter, an image is refracted onto a light-sensitive surface, giving a snapshot of your event. And manipulating refraction and the speed of light creates some very interesting shots.

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